Presidential Range, New Hampshire
The western United States has no monopoly on vistas above the tree line.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains also offer inspiring alpine scenery from bald summits that hover around 6,000 feet in elevation. The mightiest are located in the Presidential Range, where the trails are rough but the landings are soft thanks to a string of simple, high-mountain bunkhouses operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. The highest hut (Lakes of the Clouds, at 5,012 feet) is often ensconced in its namesake mist, but on a clear day, hikers savor sweeping panoramas of craggy summits and plunging valleys. And each night, an appetizer of soup and freshly baked bread precedes the likes of spaghetti and meatballs. The classic Presidential Traverse 20-mile route takes three days, staying overnight at Lakes of the Clouds and Madison Spring huts; stringing together all eight White Mountain huts requires nine days and covers 56 miles.
Tour du Mont Blanc, Alps
Three countries (France,Switzerland and italy) surround mighty Mont Blanc, the Alps’ highest peak at 15,770 feet. Its blazing white glaciers and snaggled peaks are gorgeous from any angle, and the Tour de Mont Blanc hiking route showcases the lot of them, as well as the cultural differences that persist along this international 105-mile loop. You’ll sip espresso and eat wild mushroom pappardelle at huts in Italy, admire flower boxes and wooden chalets in Switzerland, and savor regional cheeses and coq au vin in France, along a hut-to-hut circuit that takes most trekkers 10 to 12 days to complete. The food is scrumptious but the bunk accommodations are basic in all three countries’ huts in France and Switzerland), which treat guests to panoramas of the surrounding Alps. Between huts, you’ll cross ancient Roman footbridges, visit high-Alpine chapels, and hike beneath hulking glaciers.
Book It: Hiking and walking tour outfitter Distant Journeys offers guided and self-guided itineraries. Or arrange your own tour and book huts through the Tour du Mont Blanc site.Courtesy of Distant Journeys